Jakarta: Fouaad Mirza pranced his trusted bay gelding Seigneur Medicott through three events with style, but for the minor error in clearing the final jump that tipped the rail forcing the Indian to settle with a silver medal in the Eventing Individual Jumping final in the Equestrian events at the Asian Games here on Sunday.
Regardless of the problems Mirza faced before coming in to Jakarta, his individual silver and then his efforts in winning Team silver helped script history for Indian Equestrian as he became the first Indian to win an individual medal in the equestrian event in 36 years. Mirza won silver finishing behind Japan’s Oiwa Yoshiaki.
Later, Indian team comprising Mirza, Jitender Singh, Akash Malik and Rakesh Kumar, also won a silver in the team event in the same competition with a combined score of 121.30.
Japan took the gold with 82.40, while Thailand bagged the bronze with 126.70. Topping the dressage and cross-country qualifiers with a score of 22.40, Mirza went into the jumping finals as a favourite, but picked up 26.40 penalties that was good enough for silver medal in the three-day competition. Yoshiaki scored 22.70 to win the gold.
The Indian needed to clear all the hurdles without any knock-downs. However, luck deserted him as his horse knocked down the bars on one occasion and that cost him four penalty points.
“I am extremely thrilled to be the first Indian to Individual medal in this competition at this level is great,” said the 26-year-old Fouaad, who interestingly achieved this landmark on the 26th day of the month.
India had previously won 10 medals in the sport, including three gold medals, but the last individual medal in Eventing came in 1982 when Raghubir Singh topped the table in New Delhi. That year, all three of the podium positions were awarded to Indians-Ghulam Mohammed Khan won silver while Prahlad Singh won bronze.
Eventing is essentially a three-day test of skill and endurance of the horse and rider. Dressage, considered the most artistic of the equestrian sports, takes place on the first day and is judged on a series of precise movements, the second and most demanding test is cross country which has participants gallop over a set distance jumping over a variety of obstacles including drop fences and water hazards.
The third and final day is show jumping and in this round horse and rider are required to jump over a series of obstacles inside a course against a clock. The horse is required to jump and land cleanly and scores are based on jumps knocked down, falls, time penalties and refusals to jump.
Equestrian at Asian Games
India: 10 medals (3 gold, 1 silver, 6 bronze) before 2018. Equestrian was introduced as medal sport in Asiad in 1982 Games in New Delhi.
- Raghubir Singh (Individual Eventing) 1982 New Delhi.
- Raghubir Singh, Ghulam Mohammed Khan, Bishal Singh, Milkha Singh (Team Eventing) 1982 New Delhi.
- Rupinder Singh Brar (Individual Tent pegging) 1982 New Delhi.
- Ghulam Mohammed Khan (Individual Eventing) 1982 New Delhi.
- Jitendarjit Singh Ahluwalia, Ghulam Mohammed Khan, Raghubir Singh (Team Dressage) 1986 Seoul
- Prahlad Singh (Individual Eventing) 1982 New Delhi.
- Ghulam Mohammed Khan, Adhiraj Singh, Raghubir Singh, Ishwar Singh (Team Eventing) 1986 Seoul.
- Imtiaz Anees, Amlokjit Singh, Rajesh Pattu, Palwinder Singh (Team Eventing) 1998 Bangkok.
- Indrajit Lamba, Bhagirath Singh, Rajesh Pattu, Deep Kumar Ahlawat (Team Eventing) 2002 Busan.
- Bhagirath Singh, Deep Kumar Ahlawat, Palwinder Singh, Rajesh Pattu (Team Eventing) 2006 Doha.
Silver medallist Fouaad Mirza: factfile
- Fouaad’s journey with horses began as a five-year-old when he participated in his first competition-a regional horse show-just three years later.
- Mentored by his father, Dr. Hasneyn, one of the country’s leading equine vets, Fouaad became the first Indian rider to post a victory in Europe.
- He has been training under German Olympian Bettina Hoy.
- Training in United Kingdom and Germany since the last three years, Fouaad posted a winning performance astride Seigneur Medicott and a second-position finish with his other horse Cocky Locky at the first round of Asian Games trials.
- The Indian equestrian team’s journey to Jakarta was nothing less than a nightmare. The Equestrian Federation of India declared the selection and then declared it null and void as a result of infighting between office-bearers. In June, the Indian Olympic Association dropped the entire team from the contingent before a seven-member team was finally cleared by the Ministry. Their woes didn’t end there. Accreditations were cleared only on the eve of their departure. Funnier still, horses were brought in from Chennai and Belgium to the Games venue but with no grooms to attend to them for hours together.